Abigail Kawananakoa’s Native Tea Rose is now a stakes winner at Los Alamitos after scoring a ¾ length victory over a field that included California Breeders Freshman Stakes winner Buy Buy and Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity finalist Lavish Susan in Friday’s $15,000 Stel Corona Handicap.
Fourth in last year’s All American Futurity, Native Tea Rose was making her sophomore debut while making her first start since finishing out of the money in a trial to the Los Alamitos Two Million on November 25. The Bob and Jerry Gaston-bred daughter of First Down Dash returned to the winner’s circle in her first start of the year following a solid effort in the 350-yard dash in a time of :17.592.
Leaving the gate from post number one, Native Tea Rose broke swiftly and had a ¾ length advantage after the first 100 yards. With Cesar De Alba aboard, Native Tea Rose was never challenged from there, as she opened up a daylight advantage over her five rivals while remaining in command of the race.
“She ran an awesome race,” De Alba said. “She came out fast away from the gate. She lugged out a little bit, but that’s because she was looking at the inside rail. She was alone at that point and I had to get her attention towards the end of the race. She was good tonight. You always want to ride horses like Native Tea Rose.”
Trained by Paul Jones, the Texas-bred filly earned $8,250 for the win to take her career earnings to $164,330. She’s won three of six career starts. Native Tea Rose is eligible to run in the October 12 trials to the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby.
Jose Benavides and Guillermo Morales’ Buy Buy earned $3,375 for her second place finish. The filly by Stel Corona ran in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby earlier this season and was third in the Go Josie Go Handicap on March 29. Last year, she was second in the Pat Hyland Handicap and third in the Autum Handicap. Jose and Gustavo De La Torre’s Lavish Susan crossed the wire third in the Stel Corona and added $1,875 to her bankroll. Third in the La Primera Del Ano Derby on April 6 and ninth in the last year’s Two Million, Lavish Susan has lifetime earnings of $77,750. Shakeemdontbreakem, A Walking Secret and Barrel Babe completed the field.
Jockey Santiago Mendez, who has been sidelined since being in an accident in the winner’s circle after the running of the Los Alamitos Claiming Futurity on June 15, is looking forward to returning to the saddle in the near future.
“I went to see the doctor on Tuesday and I was told that everything is progressing well,” Mendez said. “I had a fracture near my eye, but it’s healing nicely. I’m feeling good.”
Mendez won the Claiming Futurity aboard Alota Cartel, but was injured when the filly acted up unexpectedly in the winner’s circle and bucked him off hard to the ground.